Had they advanced to the American League Division Series against the Angels, the A’s likely would have been heavy underdogs.
That has nothing to do with how the A’s played the Angels this season, but because of the personnel Oakland would be able to put on the field.
Center fielder Coco Crisp suffered a hamstring injury not long before the A’s suffered a 9-8, 12-inning loss to the Royals in Kansas City. Catcher Geovany Soto jammed his thumb in the first inning and had to come out of the game in the third.
Manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday the injuries were not short-term.
“We would have had to go without Coco and without Soto in the next round if we’d gotten that far,’’ Melvin said.
The A’s would have had to activate catcher Bryan Anderson, who had one big league at-bat in the 2014 season, in place of Soto. Rookie Billy Burns would likely have been the replacement for Crisp, Burns having all of six big league at-bats.
At some level, you have to think the A’s did well to go as far as they did with all the injuries they had.
Crisp, the man who makes the offense go, was in and out of the lineup after suffering a neck injury crashing into the Coliseum wall in the first game of a May 7 doubleheader.
Closer Sean Doolittle missed 18 games in August and September, and not only did the bullpen take a tumble while he was gone, he was never as effective once he came back, including blowing the save in the ninth inning Tuesday.
Brandon Moss had a cortisone shot in the final week of the season to relieve hip pain, but from July 24 on had just two of his 25 homers.
Oakland traded for some right-handed power in Kyle Blanks, then saw him miss the final 86 games with a left calf strain.
Then there were the twin injuries of Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, who suffered injuries that led to Tommy Josh surgery mid-March.
Derek Norris’s trouble throwing out runners had something to do with shoulder and back pain he was going through. But the A’s had to play him almost every day until the final week of the season because, even with his inability to throw out base runners, the A’s other two catchers were gone.
The pains that hurt the A’s more than any were the foot injury to Stephen Vogt, limiting by the end of the season to playing only first base, and the second set of concussion issues in two years for John Jaso, taking both men out of what had been an extremely effective three-catcher setup.
Vogt will have surgery on his foot and likely will be able to play behind the plate next year, but when Soto went down Tuesday, Norris was the only available option on the roster. Anderson would have been activated for the ALDS against the Angels had the A’s advanced.
“We went from having the most productive catching in baseball to the point where we had to expose (Norris) by playing him every day,’’ general manager Billy Beane said.
Moss may also have surgery this off-season to correct the hip problem that he thought would get better, but only got worse until he had the cortisone.
Both Vogt and Moss will be back. The A’s are hopeful that outfielder Craig Gentry, lost to the team for the final month of the season, will be up to speed after being sidelined by concussion issues. What the A’s don’t know is if Jaso will catch again.
Manager Bob Melvin said the club was optimistic that Jaso would return as a hitter, but more cautious about if he’d return as a catcher even if he was cleared to get behind the plate by Major League Baseball.
“That would be a decision made by him if he gets cleared by Dr. (Micky) Collins,’’ the manager said, referring to Jaso’s treatment at the hands of one of the country’s premier sports concussion specialists.
The A’s are optimistic they will get Griffin and Parker back, but probably not until the middle of the 2015 season. Recovery from Tommy John surgery takes 12 months at a minimum, many pitchers are looking at 15 months and to get back to best form it can take 18 months or more.
For Parker, who had the surgery in March, it’s double trouble because he’s now had Tommy John surgery twice. So even though Griffin’s surgery took place a month after Parker’s it would be no surprise to have Griffin return to form a little more quickly.